Chinaskis is a Compact candle-lit bar celebrating Charles Bukowski and offering a choice of bourbons, plus a garden. Taking inspiration from Charles Bukowski’s infamous protagonist, Chinaski’s might be understated, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one seriously incredible spot. This secret bar in Glasgow is home to a slick crowd of refined drinkers, some tasty eats, and exquisite cocktails. Chinaskis, a hidden speakeasy in the heart of Glasgow City Centre, is a rare find amid the numerous boozers on adjacent Sauchiehall Street. Chinaskiss is named after writer Charles Bukowski’s alter-ego and recurrent character, immortalized by Matt Dillon in Factotum and Micky Rourke in Barfly. It focuses on the attraction of the passionate protagonist, with a soft spot for whiskey and cigars.
The décor is straightforward, with discreet touches of extravagance in green leather and dark woods. A lovely garden in the back appears a world apart from the city outside. Candlelight, fantastical ambiance takes over the bar at night, making it a perfect setting for romantic encounters and whispered chats. Burgers, spaghetti, steaks, pizza, and the omnipresent bourbon are offered, as are a broad choice of liquor and drinks, with White Russians being particularly popular. The crowd is discriminating yet modest, courteous, well-informed, and keen not to have their tiny bit of heaven stomped on, bypassing beer louts. So don’t seek a sign since you won’t find one. You had to know who Chinaski was and be aware of your surroundings, or you’d miss this pub, which would be a tragedy of epic proportions.
Being a poet, being from Chicago, and knowing a lot about Charles Bukowski made this the ideal unintentional happy destination on a brief vacation to Scotland. We arrived by chance, but terrific rates and excellent service kept us there. We stayed inside because it was a wet day in October (2021), but there was a vast and well-appointed outside space if the weather permits. The service was courteous and prompt. They like working there, as we talked about Bukowski and the nuances of tourism. The meal was delicious. The Bukowski Burger was grilled to perfection and seasoned with the same intricacy as its namesake’s writing. I strongly suggest this establishment but don’t ask if you can get a tee-shirt. Good cuisine, friendly and attentive service. Excellent outside drinking and dining facilities, safe from the weather. The walk from Central Station takes around 20 minutes. I strongly suggest it.